With BART, commuter and light rail, regional bus systems, and ferries crisscrossing its nine counties, the San Francisco Bay Area is packed with public transportation options. But making connectionsmore
With BART, commuter and light rail, regional bus systems, and ferries crisscrossing its nine counties, the San Francisco Bay Area is packed with public transportation options. But making connections between transit lines and keeping track of departure and arrival times can be challenging, with nearly two dozen different public transportation services.
While the major public transit apps (including the aptly named Transit) all can do a fine job of getting you around the Bay Area, a handful of free regional transportation apps for iPhone and Android focus specifically on getting you around the San Francisco Bay Area and offer routes, schedules, transit maps, and real-time departure times for the bus, train, and ferry services that cover the region.
Public transportation apps all work in the same way: Enter your current location, set your destination, choose a departure time, and hit "Go." Some will give the option of selecting a transportation service, such as bus or subway. The app will then show you step-by-step instructions, including travel times. Some will also alert you when you need to make a transfer.
Different local transit authorities take different approaches to apps. BART, for example, supports third-party developers and doesn't have an official app. MUNI takes another approach, offering an official app that helps you buy tickets and plan trips on its train, bus, and cable-car lines.
If you are running late, some of our picks also let you request an Uber or Lyft. For example, with Citymapper, expand the card that displays your transit systems, and then tap the Uber or Lyft icon to book a ride.
From apps designed specifically for MUNI and BART to ones that cover all the regional transit systems, you can find one to help you get around the Bay Area.
An iOS-only app, Routesy displays Muni, BART, Caltrain, and AC Transit schedules with real-time updates and lets you bookmark favorite routes. Best for experienced commuters, the app is perfect if you already know where you are going.
Another free iOS-only app, Live BART does a nice job of showing you estimated train schedules for the Bay Area Rapid Transit station nearest you. If you've ever tried to navigate BART's mobile site on your phone, you'll think this app is a gem.
Another free transit app just for iPhones, CaltrainMe tracks the Caltrain commuter rail, which runs down the peninsula between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The app displays weekday and weekend schedules, fares, and rider alerts.
The official app of San Francisco's MUNI transit system lets you buy and manage MUNI tickets, plan a trip, and see arrival times for MUNI trains, buses, and cable car lines. A downside -- the free MuniMobile app doesn't work with Clipper yet.
NextBus covers AC Transit, MUNI, and a handful of university and company shuttles, including Kaiser Permanente. The free app displays real-time arrival predictions for nearby stops using GPS data. You can save your favorite transit service and find the location of stops and vehicles on a live map. The app covers more than 100 services across states, cities, businesses, and colleges.
Open it up, and Transit displays a running list of public transportation options near you. You can also pick your destination and see your travel options, including ride-sharing services. Besides the Bay Area, Transit covers ten countries and 145 cities.